After nearly 23 years at its original Sheraton Mall location, entertainer Philip Forrester’s IVPlay Deli has appeared to heed a Government Minister’s suggestion to go international as it opened a new branch in The City.
Speaking as the delicatessen opened at River Road, the Minister for small business Dwight Sutherland challenged Forrester to consider African nations, Suriname and elsewhere in the Americas as places to create a franchise.
He added: “With your attitude and your attention to detail and in your pursuit of excellence, I know you will become one of our beacons in the micro, small and medium-sized sector to take your product and your service to the global market place successfully.”
While acknowledging his firm is looking to build a “big future” at the Bridgetown branch, Forrester said: “It is now important for IVPlay Deli with 24 years in the business to extend its arm into different opportunities in Barbados, and we are having conversations… about franchising the business.”
Sutherland hailed the business as a “success story” that ought to be spread beyond the island’s shores.
He said: “It is businesses such as IVPlay Deli that we have to take into our schools, into the various sectors, whether it is the service sector or the marketing sector.
“There is a success story to be told as we seek to build out the micro, small and medium-sized sector in this country.
“How Mr Forrester weathered the storm? What were some of the obstacles? What were some of his principles that he holds true and fast to that made his business a success?”
While he urged the deli to be an example, Sutherland blamed small business failure on a lack of will, even as he nodded to entrepreneurs’ age-old complaints of poor access to adequate startup funds and affordable credit.
The Minister said: “We recognize businesses don’t only fail because of the lack of capital, but businesses fail because of the lack of the will that this gentleman has here; when they meet the first obstacle some of them fold up.
“They fail because they don’t have persons to do the hand-holding.”
Stressing the Government’s focus on building a Financial Literacy Bureau for small businesses, Sutherland drafted the bandleader-turned-food service entrepreneur on the spot as one of the bureau’s experts to pass on business skills, including debt and financial management, customer service and marketing.
He told Forrester: “I have just enrolled you as one of those persons who will be part of our Financial Literacy Bureau, not for free, but to tell the success story and to hand-hold those small businesses.
“Whether it is in the culinary arts… in the marketing of a business…in the production of food… the production within the manufacturing or tourism sector, Mr Forrester has something to offer.
“I don’t want you to stop here and focus on IVPlay Deli. I want you to join us as a Government in being instrumental in building out the micro, small and medium enterprise sector.
“I want you to go into those schools and teach those young students what it means to run a successful business.
“I want you to go into those schools and to those small businesses and teach them what it means to overcome these obstacles and hurdles when people say ‘I can’t do it’.
“You have that ‘can do attitude’ and I want you to be part of our entrepreneurial and small business ecosystem because I will continue to say to you that this is a success story.”
Forrester, who opened IVPlay Deli in March 1997 at Sheraton Mall, said he was convicted in his belief that the operation would always work.